By Joel Santner

I’ve just completed my first two semesters of graduate school at USC School for Cinematic Arts. It was an exhilarating seven months. I learned a tremendous amount, made some friends, and created some cool movies.  Often my day would start at 6am and I would get home around 11pm. It has been the time of my life.

Needless to say, balance was not part of my experience last semester. I got very little sleep, didn’t see my girlfriend often, and got zero exercise. This is unsustainable. Making movies is like running a marathon. You need to pace yourself for the highs and lows of the journey and you need to be in shape mentally and physically. You can apply this to just about any course of study or job.

Though I enrolled in summer school classes, I spent the rest of my time this summer trying to recapture some of the balance in my life by instilling a healthy schedule. The rejuvenating effects of that extra hour of sleep, an early morning hike, or a yoga class feeds the body in a way that relaxes the mind and allows space to reflect.

Also, and this was hugely important, I took a break from social media. Try it. It’s worth it. You’ll feel weird for about 24 hours and then you simply won’t care that you are potentially missing out. My experience allowed me some perspective, peace and quiet, and focus. I noticed a shift in my ability to concentrate for longer stretches of time.

The time away has been relaxing. I haven’t been assaulted with opinions, social fads, or political agendas. It put more responsibility on me to connect with my friends. I prefer talking on the phone so no Facebook means I make more of an effort to call my friends (I endeavor to do this regardless, but I’m making a point here).

My summer experience has reminded me how much effort it takes to protect your mental and physical health from the madness of social media, school, and work- life. Once in a while, it’s worth taking a step back and reevaluating your day-to-day choices to see if you are taking care of yourself. With only a week of summer left, now is the perfect time to step back and enjoy some balance.

Featured image from Pikist

Joel received his BA in theatre from Hanover College and his MFA for Classical Acting from George Washington University. He worked as an actor and director in Washington, DC for eight years. He was an Associate Artist with Faction of Fools Theatre Co. and a Company Member with Taffety Punk. Joel is a first year graduate student at the School of Cinematic Arts for Film Production.